Kathie Freeman
The Early Years
I was born and raised in Newbury Park, California, a rural area northwest of Los Angeles. Our next-door neighbor was a chicken farm with several thousand hens in rows of cages under a corrugated steel roof. (We weren't supposed to go in there.) Across a two-lane road was a water tower, a three-story windmill with a rickety staircase (we weren't supposed to go up there), and a large fenced-in pasture where the dairy cows grazed. (We weren't supposed to go in there, either). Ahem.

All of these "forbidden zones" were owned by the Academy, a church-run boarding school where my father worked, as did the fathers of most of my schoolmates. One of my fondest memories is walking the quarter-mile to the milking barn with my older brothers and watching my dad hook the cows to the milkers - giant teakettle-like contraptions that bounced and jiggled as they sucked the creamy white liquid from the bulging udders. When we grew bored with that we'd wander off to pet the calves in the barn, or harrass the bull in the reinforced pen. (Need I say we weren't supposed to do that?)

The next nearest kids lived half a mile away, but there were 5 of us (eventually 7), so we spent our days alternately playing with and tormenting one another. Our elementary school was a classic one-room school, all eight grades under one teacher, and under the close supervision of the Academy.

School Days

I was a good student, not straight-A's, but mostly A's and B's. I had a rebellious streak that first manifested itself in elementary school and bloomed spectacularly at the high schol level. It seemed every class I especially wanted to take was somehow "wrong" for me. In in tenth grade I tried to sign up for voice lessons, but didn't have enough "range". In eleventh grade I wanted to take woodshop like my brothers before me, but was told "Woodshop is for boys. You can take either advanced sewing or cooking." In twelfth grade it was art class, but that interfered with chemistry.

I took a lot of math and science courses in the upper grades with visions of a career in nuclear physics, but my social life was nonexistant. I grew more and more disillusioned, withdrawing into a world of fantasy and imagination. I left home at nineteen and got a job at a transistor factory.

All Grown Up

The first year was a struggle. I barely earned enough to make ends meet, and still no boyfriend. Things finally turned around when I met Norman. He moved in with me after a few months, to my mother's chagrin, and we pooled our finances to be a bit more comfortable. I moved up to more skilled jobs with better pay, and after a couple of years we moved into a house of our own.

We got our first cat about a year after we met, a purebred Siamese given to us by a friend. A few months later we were adopted by a stray, the first of many. We finally married six years to the day after we met, to my mother's immense relief.

Starting Over

After I injured my back at work I started writing, short stories, articles, whatever came into my head. Mom always did say I had a wild imagination. We moved to northwest Oregon for two years in the early nineties. Norman had lived there briefly as a child and remembered how lush and green it was. What he forgot was why - it rains ALL THE TIME! Back to sunny California.

"Catwalk" was published in 1998, and I started on my next project. I'll let you know when it's finished. Okay, so I'm not the fastest writer in the world. Stay tuned.

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